New commoners invited to take part in Forest mentor scheme

New forest pony 4479 online

Published Wednesday 3 May 2017

Helping to round-up New Forest ponies, caring for stock and sheep showing - these are just a few of the skills learnt by participants in an innovative mentoring programme.

The free scheme, organised by the New Forest Land Advice Service and the Commoners Defence Association, created six pairings in June 2016 to encourage new commoners and help preserve the Forest’s traditional practices, and is now looking for this year’s novices.

Each pairing lasts one year, with new commoners spending time on their mentor’s land to learn vital commoning skills that ensure the survival of this unique way of managing the Forest’s rare habitats and traditional way of life.

Richard Austin, New Forest Land Advice Service Training and Mentoring Co-ordinator, said: ‘The first year of the Commoners Mentor Scheme has been a fantastic way of forging successful working relationships and integrating young and new commoners in the commoning community.

‘The mentors have passed on their skills and knowledge on their holding and at various commoning events around the forest and are looking forward to welcoming new commoners for the second year.’

Laura Maughan, 18, from Cadnam, was amongst last year’s new commoners, and was learning from experienced commoner Charlie Knight based in Beaulieu. Laura said: ‘The Commoners Mentor Scheme has helped me develop contacts in the forest and build relationships which provided a valuable opportunity of work experience on a local farm.

‘It has opened my eyes to the different ways of how commoning works in the New Forest. The scheme has improved my own skills and broadened my horizons for my own future career.’

Tony, Jacqui and their daughter Emma Vanderhoek (aged 19) from Totton, who own land in Fordingbridge, also took part in last year’s scheme, learning from long-term commoner Ann Sevier from Blissford, Fordingbridge.

Tony said: ‘There are always things you can learn and the scheme has been superb in helping us feel more confident in what we are doing. It’s a fantastic opportunity to widen your knowledge and I’d encourage anyone interested to get involved.’

The second year of the scheme will start in June and is mainly for young people, but you can also take part if you have rights attached to your property and want to become a practising commoner.

Those interested in hearing the experiences of last year’s participants, and finding out how to get involved, can attend the open evening at 7pm on Wednesday 10 May at The Trusty Servant, Minstead.

If you are interested in attending the evening or are unable to attend but would like to know more about taking part in the scheme, please contact Richard Austin on 01590 646661 or richard.austin@nflandadvice.org.uk.

The mentoring programme is part of a Heritage Lottery Fund ‘Our Past, Our Future’ Landscape Partnership Scheme led by the New Forest National Park Authority in conjunction with 11 key partners.

-ends-

Notes to photo editor:

A New Forest Pony.

Notes to Editor:

Our Past, Our Future

Our Past, Our Future is a Landscape Partnership Scheme for the New Forest which, supported by Heritage Lottery Funding, will undertake a range of projects to restore lost habitats, develop Forest skills and inspire a new generation to champion and care for the New Forest. The partnership focuses on the enclosed lands which surround the Open Forest.

The five year scheme is being led by the New Forest National Park Authority working alongside several delivery and funding partners, including the New Forest Land Advice Service.

For more information on Our Past, Our Future visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/landscapepartnership

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk@heritagelottery @HLFSouthEast

About the New Forest Land Advice Service

The New Forest Land Advice Service is available to landowners and occupiers who would like advice and support on a wide range of issues relating to land management. The advisors operate across the National Park, the Avon Valley and the coastal plain. Since the service started in 2010 it has advised more than 350 businesses.

The service offers:

  • A free and independent service for the land managing community in and around the New Forest and Avon Valley
  • Support for landowners, farmers, New Forest Commoners, equine owners, graziers and community groups
  • Advice to anyone who owns or manages a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) in the area.

To find out more about the New Forest Land Advice Service, or arrange a visit, please call 01590 646696 or email enquiries@nfladvice.org.uk.

About the New Forest National Park Authority

Protect - Enjoy - Prosper

The New Forest National Park Authority’s statutory purposes are to:

  • Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park - Protect.
  • Promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities – Enjoy.

We also have a duty to:

  • Seek to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the Park – Prosper.

The New Forest National Park was designated in March 2005. Its unique landscape has been shaped over the centuries by grazing ponies, cattle and pigs which roam free. Majestic woodlands, rare heathland and a spectacular coastline provide fabulous opportunities for quiet recreation, enjoyment and discovery.

Visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk to find out more.

Media Contact:

Beki Mole, Communications Assistant

New Forest National Park Authority

Tel: 01590 646639

Email: beki.mole@newforestnpa.gov.uk


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